Felicity Green

junior fellow
EURIAS cohort 2011/2012
discipline History
Chancellor’s Fellowship at the University of Edinburgh

Research project

The Household in Early-Modern Thought


My research centres on representations of the household and of household management in early modern European thought. Previous scholars have approached this theme from the vantage-point of material and social history, for instance by analyzing the institutions of marriage and of the family, or by tracing the contours of private and public space in this period. New Historicist critics, meanwhile, have extended some of these concerns to the interpretation of literature, paying particular attention to constructions of domesticity, femininity and patriarchal authority. The intellectual history of the early modern household, however, remains largely to be written.


This period saw the publication of numerous advice manuals and conduct books offering guidance about such topics as the running of agricultural estates, the reciprocal duties of husbands and wives, and the management of children and servants. The household features prominently, moreover, as an area of theoretical as well as practical concern, provoking questions about authority, privacy and property across a wide range of philosophical and literary texts, including Thomas More’s Utopia (1516), Jean Bodin’s Six livres de la république (1576), Montaigne’s Essais (c. 1571-1592) and Travel Journal (c. 1580-1581), and Shakespeare’s King Lear (c. 1603-1606). In addition to the rich thematic treatment of the household in the interlocking contexts of moral philosophy, political thought and imaginative literature, the language of household management and authority was often deployed metaphorically, in order to articulate (and sometimes to question) broader notions of agency, autonomy and order.


My research seeks to locate these discussions and ideas within the wider intellectual landscape of early-modern Europe. By tracing the operations of the complex discourse of the household in a wide range of textual contexts, I hope to achieve two aims: firstly, to uncover the connections between household management, self-discipline and self-regulation, and the right ordering of a commonwealth or state; and secondly, to show how visions of the household as a paradigm of judicious use, arrangement and control were both defined and subverted by contrasting ideas of travel, exile, pilgrimage and homelessness.



Felicity Green holds a PhD in History (awarded in 2010) from the University of Cambridge. She was elected to a Research Fellowship at Trinity College, Cambridge in 2009. She will spend July and August 2012 as an Andrew Mellon Foundation fellow at the Huntington Library, California, before taking up a Chancellor’s Fellowship at the University of Edinburgh in September.

Selected publications


Montaigne and the Life of Freedom, Cambridge University Press, Ideas in Context no. 101, forthcoming September 2012.


'Freedom and Self-Possession: The Case of Montaigne’s Essais', in Q. Skinner and M. van Gelderen (eds), Freedom and the Construction of Europe: new perspectives on religious, philosophical and political controversies, Cambridge University Press, forthcoming.


'Reading Montaigne in the Twenty-First Century', The Historical Journal, vol. 52, 2009, pp. 1085-1109.


senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2015/2016
Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study (SCAS)
discipline Cultural Studies
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2017/2018
Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study (SCAS)
discipline History
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2012/2013
Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study (SCAS)
discipline Literature
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2018/2019
Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study (SCAS)
discipline Philosophy and Islamic Studies